Walking to the train this morning, I saw a young-ish Black man in a parka outside the dollar store. His hood was up against tye wind, and he was hunched over trying to light his cigarette. He looked up and looked me in the eye then went back to his task. At the curb was a man half in the backseat of his car, putting his child in a safety seat. As I approached, the cigarette man stood straight and pointed toward the car.
“Miss! You see him, Miss? He’s a good dude. He’s a father taking care of his kid.”
I looked over at the car then nodded at the cigarette man. “Alright,” I said. And the man nodded and gave me a Black Power salute. I kept walking to the station.
So first, let’s address how pleased my vanity was by that “Miss.” These days, if anyone’s bothering to give me an honorific, it’s “Ma’am.” And there’s nothing wrong with that … except that it makes me feel like Methuselah’s older sister. So “Miss” felt like a kind nod to my long-past youth, and I liked it.
Second, that Black Power salute. It charmed and amused me. This was hardly a situation in which I’d have expected such a thing to happen. It was so unexpected, it kind of lit the moment up for me. I know there is still a lingering belief that a Black woman with natural hair must be all about the struggle or some such. I’m not saying I’m not, but those leanings aren’t determined or identifiable by my hair, and I wasn’t expecting the nod to that possible common cause in that exact moment.
But then to the meat of the matter. What was that? It was interesting, and even cute, but … what? Why point out the man putting his kid in the car? Why draw a stranger’s attention to this pretty regular thing?
I like random things, generally speaking. I particularly like random pleasant moments with strangers on the street. Those moments fall into the category of things I love about living in my city (and are cross-posted under “things I like about interacting with strangers in any city”). I have a lot of these moments. A lot. My sister would say that it’s because of my face, that my face tells people that I will respond if they talk to me. I don’t know if that’s always so true these days, but I guess it’s true enough given how often strangers talk to me. My face is a random moment generator, sparking curious encounters everywhere it goes.
This particular encounter was more random than usual. A good dude, indeed. Had me smiling and shaking my head all the way downtown.
It’s the 16th annual Slice of Life Story Challenge!
Head on over to Two Writing Teachers
and see what the rest of this year’s slicers are up to!